Friday, November 30, 2007
Fun in the Snow - Draper, Utah
Each year, I take the kids on an individual trip with dad. I try to make it inexpensive and unassuming. But the emphasis of these trips is always focused on communication, connection, and building good memories. This year, I was able to take Emily to go skiing in Utah. My only expense was flying her out, since my trip was on the tail-end of my PASS trip. And my good friend Joel Meyer very graciously provided a place for us to stay, food to eat, and great company.
We were very fortunate to have great weather for the trip. It started snow the evening we arrived and, the next morning, we had a happy 8" of snow on the ground. The snow looked so pretty on the streets, on the trees, and on the stuff in the backyard. It was a classic snowstorm that was perfect for making snow angels.
We enjoyed visiting with Joel and his oldest son, Christopher. The rest of Joel's family (Theresa - his wife, and their youngest kids, Dalton and Savannah) were on an extended vacation on the Alabama Gulf coast. They promptly toasted Emily and I in games like Spades, though I did pretty good in a round of Scattegories.
The Last PASS at Last
All the work that we do for PASS is on a volunteer basis and, for me, it was taking between 10-20 hrs per week over and above the day job at Quest Software. With the way my day job and PASS were balanced, I was working way too much. Each of the board positions are set up as a 2-year term and at the end of my first term as President, I was feeling my years. On top of that, homelife was in a total tailspin. I truly at the end of my rope. However, PASS was also having a serious succession crisis and I was asked to stay on for one more term by almost all of the sitting board members.
I stuck it out. And I have to say that I wouldn't have been able to do it without the strong support of the board, especially the Executive Committee members - Joe Webb (my duck-shootin' buddy), Wayne Snyder, and Rushabh Mehta. Joe, in particular, I feel like went the 2nd and even 3rd mile to help cover for me because, frankly, I just didn't have the fire in my belly the same way I did during my first term. Joe also deserves a special pat on the back because he also chose not to return (as President this time), yet never once faltered in his commitment and work ethic for the organization.
Looking back on the years of my presidency, I'm proud that PASS has grown significantly to 25,000 members and 100 international chapters. I'm proud that we have strong local volunteers in cities all around the world and have grown not just in the US, but in places like Europe, Australia, and Asia. I'm proud that we now have two sitting members from outside the USA. And I'm proud that PASS has some degree of financial stability. I cannot say that I was responsible for these accomplishments. These were the accomplishments of the board itself. And we couldn't have done it without tremendous support from Microsoft and CA. But I can say that these things happened under my watch and I'm thrilled to have been there to see them happen.
In some ways, though, I feel like this last term was my most significant because it was during this term that we pried PASS out of the hands of our then management company and moved to an entirely new management company. (This was no small feat, let me assure you.) For many years, our old management company would simply say "That's not the way we do business" whenever we wanted to change things up. Our new management company is much more flexible and dynamic, and every bit as effective, if not more so. More than anything else, I feel like this is the most positive legacy of my presidency.
So now, I've reached the end of my 2nd term as President of PASS. It's not without some sadness. But I look upon the new team, sitting at our 4th quarter board meeting, and I'm filled with amazement and respect at such an incredibly talented and capable group of people. Not pictured are Wayne Snyder, Bill Graziano, Andrea Schneider, and Joel Shalaby. In the picture clockwise from left to right are: Joe Webb, Dr Greg Low (of Australia), Christoph Stotz (of Germany), Lesley Macdonald, Rushabh Mehta, Judy Christianson, Lynda Rab (of Canada), Rick Bolesta, Craig Ellis, Erin Welker (way in the back), Paul Nielsen, Rick Heigis, Chuck Heinzelman, and Pat Wright.
I'll still be engaged with PASS as much as our incoming President, Wayne Snyder, needs me. And I have a couple pet projects that I'm looking forward to working on. But at the end of the day, I'm very much looking forward to my retirement.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Amazing Sports Clips
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTsVzOKqK-k and watch this with your kids and/or loved ones.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Proof that the world DOES care about color-blindness
Friday, November 23, 2007
The winning band had some middle-aged guys in the band who could put thousands of dollars into their equipment. They also played, IMO, weird music that showcased their virtuosity without really catching the audience's attention (think of really progressive Rush or Yes to get an idea of what they sounded like). The 2nd place winner was a guy & his guitar - the soulful singer-songwriter type. Several bands performing that night were "screamo" bands - hard rock bands whose singer screams & growls without singing a tune. No Name Nonsense had the most snappy and accessible rock sound out of the entire crowd of performers.
The girls both got haircuts from their mom, one of her definite talents. I'm still not used to how their hair looks though they're incredibly cute. Emily has hit on this idea of making a drawing on your finger to provide an instant disguise. It's pretty funny imo:
I spent Thanksgiving itself with the kids and with Rachel. We also got a chance to visit with my friends David & Saundra later in the day while the kids spent the evening with their mom. All in all, it was a nice relaxing day with lots of great food.
At one point, Katie bonked her cheek and eyebrow while playing with Ava, Kaylee, and Savanna. But she was a little trooper and, despite the slight bruise, she went right back in to play. Hey, it's not a holiday unless someone gets hurt, right?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Portarideluomophobia fear of people wearing costumes
Pygmaliadevengalavidadiabolicaphobia fear of being attacked by mannequins
Angoraphobia fear of itchy sweaters
Quisappositusphobia fear of distant objects coming closer
Sophismataphobia fear of falsehoods
Stockabbildungophobia fear of drawings of stick figures
Terminolectolibriphobia fear of reading the last page of a book
Atrichophobia fear of bald people and, or fear of going bald
Janephobia fear of killing animals accidentally when driving
Dipatiphobia fear of stepping on cracks in the sidewalk
Dodecahedrophobia fear of twelve sided polygons
Aliusanusphobia fear of others' anuses
Tactile pseudofecalphobia fear of touching fake poop
Corposurculustermesphobia fear of sprouting branches from ones body
Incidofurtaphobia fear of being tricked
Votuphobia fear of prayer
Nonlatineloqueriaphobia fear of being unable to speak Latin
Catapultimataphobia fear of being killed by a catapult
Notitiatotadiesphobia fear of 24-hour news
Agricolaphobia fear of farm houses and people who live on farms
Saturday, November 10, 2007
A New Movie Starring Me and the Kids...
Friday, November 09, 2007
Day of the Ninja - 12/5/2007
Here's a good one:
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
Thursday, November 01, 2007
If I Were President, Episode #1
So one area that I've been thinking about over the years was along the lines of "If I were president, I'd do...xyz". Some of these ideas I think are kind'a good. So I thought I'd share them with you and you can shoot them down or talk them up. Here's one example - I'd create my own political party that represents my own political ideas. (That's going to be its own series of posts, however.) But the political platform is the foundation of the things I'd do if I were president, so let me jump into the first major action I'd do as president. (I warn you, these ideas are 'wonkish' - meaning that they're detailed and fairly fleshed out.)
So here's my area of action, involving two major programs, that'd I'd work on if I were president: water management.
How boring, you're thinking. What's the big deal with water management and why would a president care about it. And even if a president should care about it, then what should s/he do? Well, water management is definitely a federal issue because most all of our current water management strategies revolve around getting fresh water from either a) rivers (which span many states), or b) major aquifers (which also span many states).
There's a crisis with fresh water in the USA that is only just reaching the public eye. The problem with water management is that every state and even every big city that wants water is free to tap into a major river or aquifer and suck out all the water they want. Phoenix, for example, gets all of its water for drinking, fountains, swimming pools, and lawns from the Colorado river. The Colorado river used to reach the Gulf of Baja, but now dries up many miles before reaching the sea. It's all tapped out.
Similarly, the Ogallala Aquifer provides water for almost all the wells driven in the central USA from Texas and New Mexico to Nebraska and the Dakotas. This aquifer, which is filled with water deposited during the last ice age, is being depleted at a dramatic rate. Within our lifetime, we'll see all of its water run dry. How then, do you think, our great American Corn Belt will supply the world with food when it's as dry as the Sahara Desert? It won't, of course, and the USA will go the way of other great empires that turned their environments into deserts.
My solutions, as President, is two-fold. It's also expensive as hell, but IMO like the interstate system in that the outlays of moneys now will ensure a level of prosperity and economic-leverage that far outweighs the expence.
First, all coastal towns and cities of over 50,000 inhabitants should use desalination for their water supply. Ideally, the desalination plants will be powered by tidal/wave energy systems and work entirely off the grid for their power needs.
Second, a new inland-directed water system of pipes, piping stations, and reservoirs would enable fresh water to be shipped from the coasts into the interior of the USA. Imagine the vast, desert plains of Texas now able to cultivate crops. Colorado, usually dry as a bone, could become an agricultural state. Heck, you could even set up enormous sugarcane plantations in the normally barren Southwest to create ethanol for cars. (Sugarcane ethanol is an order of magnitude more efficient than corn ethanol.) Lots of new jobs are created. Everybody prospers. Everybody makes money. The American way is promoted!
In addition, existing programs within the Department of Interior should also be more fully funded to cultivate new forests across the country, especially in arid states. Forests provide a huge number of benefits to water management - improved water retention (trees raise the water table significantly in dry regions), windbreaks that slow evaporation across the vast prairies of Mid-Westernern states, new sources of valuable timber, and also acting as carbon sinks to soak up excess greenhouse gases.
The program, as you are probably thinking, would be extremely large. I'm thinking of a system at least as large as the current Interstate system of roads. On the other hand, try to imagine what American life would be like without Interstates. The Interstates have affected everything from where we live (suburbs, exurbs) to how we eat (fast food) to what we buy (anyone had a tomato in February? It was shipped across our Interstates cheaply and quickly from the South or Mexico). A national water system would have a similarly huge impact on the life of Americans 40-60 years from now, such that we couldn't imagine living without it.
And it's not that I'm a "green" or anything like that. It simply ensuring that American retains access to the most fundamental natural resource required for life - fresh, drinkable water.
So that's my first installment of "If I Were President". More to come!